How To Improve Egg Quality
What is oxidative stress?
As our body undergoes the many daily functions that it does to help us survive, such as using food to produce energy, healing wounds and reacting to environmental stimulants, waste products known as free radicals are naturally produced.
The oxidative stress that is inflicted on our body’s tissues by these free radicals can only be reduced by antioxidants. Our bodies are constantly working to maintain the balance between the production of free radicals and the availability of antioxidant defences.
The natural progression of ageing and some inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes or endometriosis, can promote the production of free radicals, increasing the level of oxidative stress that occurs within our bodies.
How can it affect egg quality?
Antioxidants are well known to help minimise oxidative stress in the body and boost fertility. This includes a vital role in helping promote the fertilisation of eggs and implantation.
This is because high levels of oxidative stress decrease the body’s ability to protect eggs and increases the chance of poor egg health. This may present in the form of poor oocyte maturation or low implantation rates, ultimately increasing women’s risk of fertility issues.
High oxidative stress levels can also increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, preeclampsia, recurrent pregnancy loss and poor foetal development.
Factors that contribute to oxidative stress:
There are many different factors that can contribute to free radical levels in our bodies. Some such as ageing, are out of our control. However, there are many modifiable risk factors that we have the ability to limit our exposure to, to a certain extent. These include:
- Poor nutrition
- Psychological stress
- Excessive caffeine consumption
- Toxins such as BPA, parabens, phthalates, herbicides and pesticides
- Low levels of exercise
- Chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, endometriosis and irritable bowel disease
- Insulin levels imbalances caused by sugar intake, diabetes or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Through exposure to any one of these risk factors, our oxidative stress levels risk, and the risk of infertility increase.
Top 3 supplements to improve egg quality
These days there are so many egg-quality supplements on the market that it can be hard to know. Here, we have detailed the best three supplements to improve egg quality, supported by scientific evidence.
Before you start any forms of supplementation, it’s best to have a consultation with your fertility dietitian and medical doctor before you commence any nutritional supplementation.
The first supplement that can help you reduce levels of free radical damage in your body is Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble organic compound and an antioxidant. Its main functions include preventing processes where free radicals are created, known as lipid peroxidation and DNA oxidation.
CoQ10 is naturally found in our bodies and food sources such as organs, meat, poultry, fatty fish and whole grain. However, its production slows as we age, making it less effective at protecting eggs from oxidative damage.
Supplementation with CoQ10 has been found to boost the average number of oocytes retrieved and increase the fertilisation rate by 22.4% compared to women who receive no treatment.
Another study found that high-quality embryos at day 3 increased by 24% in women who received CoQ10 supplementation. A relation between CoQ10 levels, antioxidant levels and increased rates of clinical pregnancy has been established.
The next supplement that can lower oxidative stress levels is Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful antioxidant properties and are well known for their many health benefits.
In relation to fertility, studies have shown that omega-3 is essential in the processes of early oocyte maturation and embryo implantation. The current evidence suggests that a higher intake of omega-3, combined with a lower intake of trans fats, can enhance female fertility and is associated with higher pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF.
Consuming an omega-3-rich diet is key. Fish, particularly oily fish, is the best source of omega-3. This includes salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel, which each provides over 2000 mg per 150g serving. Other types of fish (which aren’t so oily), such as John dory, snapper, blue-eye trevalla and bass still contain more than 200mg of Omega-3 per serve.
Omega-3 supplementation is recommended if you are not getting enough omega-3 through your diet.
Last but not least, Melatonin is the third supplement that can help protect your body from oxidative damage. Melatonin is the main hormone derived from the pineal gland, a small, pea-shaped gland found in the brain.
It has many different roles, such as regulation of our circadian rhythm, maintaining optimal conditions for cell function and contributing to energy production. Most importantly, it plays a major role in protecting cells from oxidative stress by searching for free radicals in the body, acting as a scavenger of sorts. This ultimately protects and slows the rate that which damage to cells is inflicted by free radicals.
In relation to egg health, melatonin treatment has been found to significantly increase the number of oocytes collected, the number of maturated oocytes and embryo quality.
An analysis of ten different studies suggests that supplementation of melatonin significantly increases the rate of clinical pregnancies in assisted reproductive treatment cycles but does not significantly increase live birth rates.
CoQ10, Omega-3 and Melatonin, are the three key supplements that may be used to help improve your egg quality and overall fertility. If you would like further information on how to optimise your fertility, including a personal customised prenatal supplementation regimen, book a consultation now with Dietitian Catherine Chong.
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